Jay Snyder has recently created Golden Retriever Records with the intention of releasing his recorded output to compact disc.
The label's first release, Euphoria's Id: Mastering The Art of French Kissing, collects the complete recorded legacy of Snyder's
teen band on one glorious disc. The CD contains the classics' Deception's Ice and the band's version of Hey Joe - as well as 17
other songs - and is highly recommended. Though the Snyder-penned liner notes to the CD present much of the band's story, Jay was
kind enough to elaborate and to provide additional insight in this exclusive interview for 60sgaragebands.com.
An Interview With Jay Snyder
60sgaragebands.com (60s): How did you first get interested in music?
Jay Snyder (JS): If you mean rock and roll music then it happened when I heard this kid play a song called Popeye on an old upright piano in the high school gym. It had the beat/feel of late '50ís/early '60ís New Orleans Rock. Three chords. I was hooked. Iíd been taking classical piano lessons before and after that for a total of 15 years.
60s: Your first band was The Electrons, right?
60s: How long was it together?
JS: About a year. The original line up of The Electrons was Bill Silliker on drums (who went on to form The Tidal Waves), a guy named Underwood on guitar, Dave Wakefield on alto sax and vocals, and myself on piano. We were doing gigs before the Beatles hit America. Once Jimmy Drown replaced Underwood, the bandís learning/growth curve soared. Skip Smith replacing Silliker was musically like Ringo taking over from Pete Best. Silliker had a showy, Buddy Rich-style that was better showcased when he formed his own band. Jimmy also introduced us to his cousin Terry who played bass and sang. Once Jimmy, Skip and Terry came into the band the personnel stayed the same over the four years we were together - only the name changed. An easy way to think of it was:
The Electrons (1963)
The Nomads (1963-1964)
The Id (1964-1965)
Euphoriaís Id (1965-1966)
60s: Where was the band originally formed?
JS: We formed in Saco, Maine in 1963. I started The Electrons which morphed into all the other band names but represented the same group post Jimmy/Skip/Terry. Sensing that Underwood was not very good, I took an ad in the local paper. Jimmy showed up and things got better fast. (NOTE: You can read about this in the liner notes to New England Teen Scene that I dictated to Erik Lindgren. Also there are references in the liner notes of the Fate album Sgt. Death.)
60s: Who named the bands? And why was the name changed so many times?
JS: I came up with these names: The Electrons because the theory at that time was that these little particles were spinning furiously looking for completion with other particles. Seemed like a good analogy for teenage energy. The Id was the result of me scratching Freudís surfaceÖthe primal sex thing, Hedonism, panting, the madness of learning to unfasten a bra.
If youíve ever seen the film That Thing You Do you know the bandís original name - The Oneders - was understandably mispronounced. That happened with us too. We were introduced as the I.D.ís (as in "let me see your I.D"), The "Eyed," and The Ids. The name Nomads may have been a group effort; itís certainly true that bands and musicians can spend a lifetime wandering a punishing desert seeking the oasis of employment. And solace in harems.
60s: Where did the band typically play?
JS: Highschools, fraternity and sorority dances, and country club dances in the Kennebunkport area. Our current president may have been in the audience.
Performance/dance places include: The Palace in Old Orchard Beach, Wells Beach Casino, Hampton Beach Casino. (We played) private parties just outside of Portland on Sebago Lake, and our own summer dances in '65 and '66 called Cherry a Go Go in Cape Porpoise, Maine. (We played) a teen club in Saco called Trudeauís; on a ship called the Abenaki that cruised Portland Harbor; as an opening act for Hermanís Hermits, Tommy James; as backup band for Chubby Checker, The Strangeloves; and for the Kennedys on Martha.s Vineyard.
60s: The Kennedy's? What songs did you play? Did you play any of the band's originals?
JS: We had learned Summertime from The Zombie's version so I'm sure we played She's Not There as well. A partial set list might have been Shakin' All Over, Can't Explain, You Really Got Me, All Day and All of the Night, So Tired, Johnny B. Goode, We Got a Good Thing Goin' (Stones album cut), Blue Feelin' (Animals album cut).
Since our second record was out at the time we always played Hey Joe and my original Deception's Ice, as well as our earlier recordings of Morning Dew and Jimmy's song I Just Don't Understand You Baby.
60s: How would you describe the band's sound?
JS: The Idís sound was all about Jimmyís single-coil, chunky-sounding Fender Strat. He was both a lead and rhythm player with deep roots into rock guitar traditions. The 1964 stuff reveals an adoration of Dick Dale surf guitar conventions. That morphed into folk-rock picking, Kinks power chord distortion while at the heart of his playing you always heard what some call Ďposition licksí (think Glen Campbell doing early Beach Boys solos or Chuck Berry).
Sitting behind Jimmyís guitar in the mix was an organ that was usually droning. That came about because of a harmonium drone part I heard and loved on Rubber Soul (The Word). Also I really didnít know what else to do with a chord back then. When I listen to the songs on the rehearsal tape of Mastering the Art of French Kissing I can hear how Iím searching for parts. Experimenting. The instrument itself was a Lowery Portable Organ that folded up into three suitcases. It was the only portable keyboard I could find in my area at the time. The Horner Pianet that I saw Rod Argent play in the Zombies, the Wurlitzer electric piano that Ray Charles played, the Vox Continental - none of these were around. I considered the Farfisa the CheezWiz of organs and the Hammond B3 was out of the question because of itís size, weight and cost. The Lowery worked with our sound because the droning showcased Jimmy. Had I had a piano-type instrument my parts probably would have gotten in the way. Also the evolution of electronics being what it was, the local TV repairman who put a line out on my Lowery amplifier so I could plug it into a Fender Bassman arranged for me to have the signal to noise ratio of a vacuum cleaner. Another good reason to be lower in volume than the guitar.
The typical (and good, of course) bass sound of the day was produced by the Fender Precision or Jazz bass played through a Fender Bassman or Showman. But like Paul McCartney who opted for the hollow body sound of a Hofner, Terry played a Kay. And that fit our sound.
David played an alto sax. Tenors were more common in rock and roll (think Tequila! or Dave Clark 5 drone parts) but Dave made it work. He added harp to his repertoire and being a fine, intuitive musician, learned it quickly. He also gave his all to the tambourine by bashing it against his right leg until it turned black and blue.
Skip played a set of blue sparkle Slingerland drums and experimented with different kick drum beaters as they came on the market. He also had a War of the Worlds contraption that sat atop his cymbals. This aluminum thing with loose rivets at the end of the folding alien arms added this Wall of Woosh to his sound.
60s: What bands influenced you?
JS: The first national rock band I saw live was Johnny and the Hurricanes who had a hit called Red River Rock based on the American folk tune Red River Valley. The sound was fat and I liked the idea that there was an organ in the band. Much music that was played on local radio in the late '50ís and early '60ís was terrible. Look at the Billboard charts of 1958 in the aftermath of the payola scandal, Alan Freed about to die for Rock and Rollís sins, and Elvis being drafted: 13 of the 23 number one songs that year were gentle. The Contours Do You Love Me in í62 was a good sign but it wasnít until the Beatles hit in February of í64 that my enthusiasm thermometer popped. Then I took to all the British Invasion bands: The Kinks, The Searchers, The Zombies, Dave Clark Five, Hollies, Stones. I owned The Animals first album where theyíre in blue checkered shirts on the cover. Thatís how some of us from that era came to the blues - via The Animals, The Stones, and to a lesser extent Them. There was even an obscure English band called Ian and The Zodiacs who had a song called So Much in Love With You that we used to play. The other members of Euphoriaís Id, of course, brought their own influences to the musical table.
60s: What was the Maine music scene like in the '60's?
JS: Thereís an old political rallying cry, "As Maine goes, so goes the nation." So Maine probably had one of the first teen clubs ever. Iím kidding but I do remember two. One, I think, was called the Lightening Dance and took place in Biddeford - the town next to Saco. There I saw Johnny and the Hurricanes, Lord Allen and Sir Richard. The Id may have played there. In Saco there was a club called Trudeauís. One of our old fans tells me he saw us there several times. There was also a venue in Lewiston named the PAL Hop - big hall, lots of good bands, lots of kids.
The important places to play and see national acts in southern Maine were the Palace in Old Orchard Beach and to a lesser extent the Wells Beach Casino and the Hampton Beach Casino. We played all three and saw groups there like The Animals, The Left Banke, Sam The Sham, and The Zombies.
Fraternity parties were a big part of our income as well as a summer dance we ran called Cherry A Go Go.
60s: How far was the band's "touring" territory?
JS: New York, New Hampshire, Massachusettes, and Maine. You can read about our trip to Lancaster, Pennsylvania in the liner notes.
60s: Did Euphoria's Id have a manager?
JS. No. But we once met a man who asked us to dye our hair green.
60s: Dye your hair green?
JS: Managers typically want to see a band distinguish themselves from the pack. We once met a band who had shaved their heads - just to be different. Somewhere along the way a manager-type had suggested the green hair to us. That's probably why we didn't hire him.
60s: How popular locally did Euphoria's Id become?
JS: I just got an email from a fan who ordered our CD so Iím going to let him answer:
Hey, Jay! I got the disc yesterday and I'm still not back from my journey back to the "magical, mystical" days. The CD booklet is also excellent. Great photos and Id history. I think my first "experience" with the Id was at a Homecoming performance in the Old Gym in 1965. Needless to say, from then on I was hooked! The winning of the Battle Of the Bands at St. Louis Field was a high point for all of us and you really took the spotlight away from Tommy James and The Shondells, at the sorely missed Palace, in the magical Summer of '66. I've always said that 1966 was the best overall year in rock music and this week on Little Steven Van Zandt's Underground Garage radio show, he expressed the same opinion! I was also at the Expo when the infamous Coke cup caught Peter Noone by surprise and ended the show. Friday nights at Trudeau's Club in Saco were also great! So, in closing, thanks for the Id years, the recorded Id music and all the good times and great memories that we still have of the best rock and roll band to have come out of Maine! Joe
60s: What other local bands of the era do you recall?
JS: The Shivers, The Tidal Waves, The Lost Souls.
60s: Did the band participate in many Battle Of The Bands?
JS: We fought in two Battles. In 1965, without a bass player, in the hometown of The Tidal Waves, we came in second. And we won the much more visible New England Battle of the Bands in 1966.
60s: Did winning the battle have any impact on the group's success?
JS: I think that happened in the summer of '66. Although winning was prestigious and we did the Herman's Hermits gig as a result, that summer (without any of us knowing it at the time) saw the last playing days of Euphoria's Id.
60s: The Id released two singles. Where were they recorded?
JS: AAA (Triple A) Studios in Dorchester, Massachusetts.
60s: What do you remember about the recording sessions?
JS: There were better mics than any of us had ever seen or used beforeÖmaybe Neumanns or Telefunkens. The drums were isolated with baffles. The vocals, of course, were overdubbed. I donít think we did guide/scratch vocals so we had to sing the tune in our heads to keep our place.
60s: Who was the band's primary songwriter?
JS: Jimmy and I both wrote songs. When I found the second rehearsal tape I realized that we had actually written a song together called Donít Count On Me. You can hear me crow in the background as Jimmy prepares to start the song "The one I wrote." But the lyrics were his even if he was making them up as he went along. The chord structure is just like Dirty Water only this was written in 1964 and Dirty Water didnít get airplay until the spring of í66. Jimmy wrote I Just Donít Understand You Baby for the flip side of Morning Dew. By the time we recorded Hey Joe I had written Deceptionís Ice.
60s: Yes...Dirty Water sounds like Don't Count On Me but - man - it SOUNDS just like Don't Count On Me! I'm sure it must have crossed your mind that the songs are too similiar to be a coincidence - or did it? What was your reaction the first time you heard Dirty Water?
JS: It is mindblowing that the chords and the arrangement are the same. I suppose it's possible that we played the song out, someone heard it, and copied it. It's also possible that that particular chord progression was bound to be discovered in the mid- '60's. If you think in the key of C for simplicity's sake, there was already a common progression C F/C C7 F that was used in songs like Boy From New York City. When you play that progression/lick on a keyboard, Bb is usually the top note in the C7 chord. For me as a young writer it was not much of a stretch to substitute a whole Bb chord for the C7. If I belong in the New England Guinness Book of Records for being the first one to think of that progression, please have somebody send me a free lobster or something.
By the time Dirty Water came out I had completely forgotten about Don't Count On Me. I was about to go to college in Boston and experience what the Standells were singing about: "Frustrated women have to be in by twelve o'clock / wishin' and a hopin' that those doors would be unlocked." There was this thing called 'parietals' that pertained to curfews, rules about men and women in the same room. etc. It may have had it's roots in New England Puritanism. Anyway, the front doors of girls dormitories were locked at a certan hour and you couldn't get in. When that happened to me and my girlfirend we spent the night "down by the banks of the river Charles."
60s: Whose idea was it to add the raga rock guitar to Hey Joe?
JS: That was Jimmy, the guitar player's idea. He had a red Rickenbacker 12-string that sounded absolutely fabulous. We used it for Hard Day's Night, If I Needed Someone (even though the original part was played on a Vox Mandoguitar) and, of course, for Mr. Tambourine Man. As we were developing Hey Joe that Middle Eastern-sounding scale emerged.
60s: Which version of the song were you most familiar with at the time - The Leaves?
JS: I'm not sure where we first heard Hey Joe. The best way to figure that out would be by the lyrics because ours are a bit different referencing "blue steel 44's" for instance. We saw The Shadows of Knight when they passed though our town. Maybe they did it. Another way to check would be to see who had the biggest hit (the most airplay) in southern Maine. There's a special website where everyone who recorded Hey Joe is listed.
60s: According to the liner notes to the CD, The Id turned down an offer from The Strangeloves to travel to New York and record Hang On Sloopy. What was the band's reaction as Hang On Sloopy was climbing up the charts? Did you/do you regret not going to New York?
JS: I read somewhere - in liner notes or on a website - that when The Strangeloves were touring and promoting I Want Candy one of their goals was to find a band to record Hang On Sloopy. I'm flattered that they asked us and I know we would have done a great version but we had become so mistrustful of offers because of our experience with the 'English Girls' (see liner notes) that we just thought "good for The McCoys." They made a great sounding record and Rick Derringer's solo was a career launcher for him. Someone was going to have a hit with that song and I'm happy for them.
60s: Did the band make any local TV appearances?
JS: The Id appeared on a show called Club Thirteen originating from WGAN-TV - the CBS affiliate out of Portland, Maine. We auditioned on March 4, 1965 and appeared shortly thereafter. There is no film footage of any live performances (to my knowledge) but someone did try to audio tape our appearance on this show. When I was listening to material for Mastering the Art of French Kissing I found the hostís announcement but it had acquired so much cross-talk over the years that it was not usable for the album.
60s: Why did you title the CD Mastering The Art of French Kissing?
JS: The mid '60s may have been a less sexual time for some than it is now but one commonality runs through the life of many teenagers: French Kissing. And that's why the cover is red because when you're young your world is red hot. I don't know what girls are thinking about but young boys (since they reach their sexual peak at age 19) have one thing on their mind and french kissing is a start. Also there's a famous cookbook by Julia Child called Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I like to cook.
60s: Why did the band break up in the '60's?
JS: The band broke up because Terry and then Jimmy were drafted. When I went off to college in the fall of í66 I received a heartfelt letter from Jimmy telling me that he had been listening to all the great guitarists that were emerging like Clapton, Hendrix, Bloomfield. He wanted to keep the band going but geography kept that from happening. Sometime after that his cousin Terry, our bass player, was killed in Vietnam.
Skip the drummer and I kept in touch. He had jammed with a guitarist and bass player from the University of Maine where he was going to school. I had met a lead singer at Boston University. We got together and formed Fate.
60s: What do you think today when listening to the unreleased Fate LP that Rockadelic has reissued?
JS: The events that led to that album being released almost 30 years after it was recorded are miraculous. Iím glad that music is out there and folks have had the chance to enjoy it. I think some of those songs could work very well in a film about the late '60ís.
60s: How do you best summarize your experiences with Euphoria's Id?
JS: The camaraderie, the exhilaration of performing, the emerging sense of self, the heat of accomplishment, fans: bliss.
60s: Please tell me about your career today. How often, and where, do you perform (if at all)? If not, what keeps you busy?
JS: In the last year Iíve written a sample chapter for a book on teaching Class Piano that is now with a publisher. I'm also working on an instructional book on Writing Charts, produced the Euphoriaís Id CD Mastering the Art of French Kissing, and with a lot of help got the Golden Retriever Records website up and running. The next Golden Retriever Records release will be Franck und Jhaz which was a music and comedy act the lead singer of Fate and I did in 1971 and 72. It contains live performances, demos and rehearsal tapes both before and after Fate. Following Franck und Jhaz will be Fate Unreleased and other projects viewable at www.goldenretrieverrecords.com.
I recently taught songwriting and rock and roll performance at a summer camp for kids, continue to write songs, and played in two bands over the last year. And now back to "Live Fast, Die Young 2."
Jimmy Drown - Guitar/vocals
Terry Drown - Bass/vocals
Skip Smith - Drums
David Wakefield - Alto sax/blues harp/vocals
Jay Snyder (Sneider) - Organ
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